Working Paper No. 230 | March 1998

The Romance of Assimilation?

Studying the Demographic Outcomes of Ethnic Intermarriage in American History

Little research has been done on the role of intermarriage in the blending of peoples in the American past, and even less has been done on the effect of past intermarriage on the ethnic identity of today's Americans. Senior Scholar Joel Perlmann sees value in studying intermarriage to show fault lines in society (social distance is larger across some divisions than others) and to examine the effect intermarriage ultimately has on assimilation. Perlmann asks, Is it assimilation that causes intermarriage or intermarriage that causes assimilation? As he sees it, the causality works in both directions: weakened ethnic allegiances are a source of intermarriage and intermarriage weakens ethnic allegiances./P>

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